Despite the huge improvements that have been made over the last decade in the outcomes for people with cardiovascular disease, it is still one of the biggest killers in England and the largest cause of disability. That is why we are developing a CVD outcomes strategy, which will set out where there is scope to make further improvements in patient outcomes in this area.
I am chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on vascular disease, which recently produced a report highlighting the need for early diagnosis and intervention, and the additional risks associated with obesity and diabetes. Is the Secretary of State willing to meet me and some of my colleagues to consider how we can improve outcomes for sufferers of vascular disease?
I thank my hon. Friend for his excellent work with the all-party group and for the group’s constructive response to our consultation on the outcomes strategy. I am more than happy to meet him and other representatives of the all-party group. With an ageing population and rising levels of obesity, we cannot be complacent about cardiovascular disease and have much to do.
The Prime Minister promised before the election that there would be no reconfigurations or closures unless there was clinical and local support. Why then has the Secretary of State decided to break up the existing vascular network centred on Warrington hospital, meaning that emergency patients face a trip to Chester by ambulance, when this has neither clinical support nor support in the local community? When did that policy change, or was it just an election promise that the Conservatives never intended to keep?
We believe in the clinical networks, including the network for cardiovascular disease. We have increased the funding for those networks by 27%. However, we want them to include mental health and maternity services. We think that it would be wrong to do what the Labour party wants, which is to concentrate that funding on cardiovascular disease and cancer, and deprive of the clear benefits of such networks the 700,000 women who give birth on the NHS every year and the nearly 1 million people who will be diagnosed with dementia.
Given that the majority of vascular interventions are acute in nature, following trauma or cardiac episodes, is it not reckless for NHS Lancashire and NHS Cumbria to be talking about moving vascular services away from the Morecambe bay area, meaning that people from the south lakes and north Cumbria will have to travel as far as Preston, Blackburn or Carlisle to receive treatment? Will the Secretary of State meet me, other local MPs and local consultants to discuss how we can put the matter right for local people?
We are very keen to ensure that all reconfigurations of services have strong local, clinical support. We are making good progress in this area. There is always a trade-off between access, which I recognise is extremely important in a rural constituency such as the hon. Gentleman’s, and the centralisation of services, which sometimes leads to better clinical outcomes. I am happy to arrange for him to meet me or one of my colleagues to discuss his concerns in more detail.
Those with diabetes, such as myself, are five times more likely to get cardiovascular diseases. Last year’s National Audit Office report indicated that 1 million diabetics did not get their nine checks. What steps will the Secretary of State take to ensure that those checks are made available to all diabetic patients?
I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his campaigning work for people with diabetes, and I am aware that there are 24,000 premature deaths every year because we are not as good as we need to be at tackling the disease. It is shocking that only half those with diabetes are getting the full set of nine checks that everyone with diabetes should be getting every year, and when we publish the cardiovascular disease outcomes strategy—which I hope will be in spring—I hope we will address some of his concerns about how we can do a better job for diabetes sufferers.
Deep vein thrombosis is the leading direct cause of maternal deaths across the United Kingdom. Will the Minister consider interaction with the regional assemblies, including the Northern Ireland Assembly, to agree a UK strategy to address that issue?